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Migrants, Health, and Happiness: Evidence that Health Assessments Travel with Migrants and Predict Well-Being

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Abstract

Health assessments correlate with health outcomes and subjective well-being. Immigrants offer an opportunity to study persistent social influences on health where the social conditions are not endogenous to individual outcomes. This approach provides a clear direction of causality from social conditions to health, and in a second stage to well-being. Natives and immigrants from across the world residing in 30 European countries are studied using survey data. The paper applies within country analysis using both linear regressions and two stage least squares. Natives’ and immigrants’ individual characteristics have similar predictive power for health, except Muslim immigrants who experience a sizeable health penalty. Average health reports in the immigrant’s birth country have a significant association with the immigrant’s current health. Almost a quarter of the birth country health variation is brought by the immigrants, while conditioning on socioeconomic characteristics. There is no evidence of the birth country predictive power declining neither as the immigrant spends more time in the residence country nor over the life course. The second stage estimates indicate that a one standard deviation improvement in health predicts higher happiness by 1.72 point or 0.82 of a standard deviation, more than four times the happiness difference of changing employment status from unemployed to employed. Studying life satisfaction yields similar results. Health improvements predict substantial increases in individual happiness.

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  • Ljunge, Martin, 2016. "Migrants, Health, and Happiness: Evidence that Health Assessments Travel with Migrants and Predict Well-Being," Working Paper Series 1112, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:iuiwop:1112
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    Cited by:

    1. Binder, Martin & Buenstorf, Guido, 2018. "Smile or die: Can subjective well-being increase survival in the face of substantive health impairments?," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 31(C), pages 209-227.
    2. Costa-Font, Joan & Ljunge, Martin, 2018. "The ‘healthy worker effect’: Do healthy people climb the occupational ladder?," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 28(C), pages 119-131.
    3. Xesfingi, Sofia & Karamanis, Dimitrios & Kechrinioti, Alexandra, 2019. "Subjective health status and immigration: Evidence across Europe," MPRA Paper 95126, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Hafiz Muhammad Abubakar Siddique & Ghulam Mohey-ud-din & Adiqa Kiani, 2018. "Health, Education and Economic Growth Nexus: Evidence from Middle Income Countries," Global Social Sciences Review, Humanity Only, vol. 3(4), pages 68-86, December.
    5. Jens Detollenaere & Stijn Baert & Sara Willems, 2018. "Association between cultural distance and migrant self-rated health," The European Journal of Health Economics, Springer;Deutsche Gesellschaft für Gesundheitsökonomie (DGGÖ), vol. 19(2), pages 257-266, March.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Health status; Self-reported health; Subjective well-being (SWB); Happiness; Life satisfaction; Immigrant health;

    JEL classification:

    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination

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